Archives For Game Recap

Box Score: Lakers 107, Hornets 101
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 117.6, Hornets 111.0
True Shooting %: Lakers 59.6%, Hornets 57.5%

Lakers go into the tail end of a back-to-back with TIRED legs. They played a double overtime game against Memphis the night before. But no rest for these weary Lakers.

THE GOOD
After a bit of a slow start (well, for most of these Lakers), Kobe Bryant looked like he had control out there. Kobe finished with 33 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists. He was key in that 14-4 run in the 3rd quarter after the Hornets had them down as many as 17 points (for the second consecutive night, the Lakers had to overcome a 17-point deficit on the road). Kobe made some pretty big plays down the stretch. Of course, there were the three freethrows he made to send the game to overtime. And then he made a pretty big throwdown (and the foul) for a three-point play at the start of overtime. And, of course, the two freethrows to put the game away. Sure, he could shoot better than 10 for 23 from the field (but PERFECT in his 11 foul shots) but he, like the rest of the Lakers, never panicked.

And you shouldn’t panic when you have an All-Star center like Andrew Bynum. Darius calls him Altered Beast (I’m sure you guys remember that game, right? No? We must be old then.). This monster finished with 25 points and 18 rebounds (following a fantastic 37/16 effort the night before). Those alley-oops upside your heads from Pau Gasol have become a Laker signature play. I also love that the Lakers now trust him to do damage in the final few minutes of a game. And did you see his quick moves around the basket? Particularly that spin and reverse lay-up against Chris Kaman? I have never seen him move this fast… ever. I wonder which Laker fans want to trade him now after these showings.

Metta World Peace has impeccable timing when it comes to making big plays. He made a 3-pointer late in the 4th quarter. He had an incredible inbounds pass to Kobe for a shot that would’ve won at regulation. In OT, he passed it to an open Derek Fisher that put the Lakers ahead for good. Then he followed it up with a steal and a lay-up that put them up three. Finally, he blocked Chris Kaman near the end of the game when Hornets were desperate for a score. Metta didn’t have incredible statistics (7 points and 3 assists) but he just has that big play ability when you least expect it. You would think his hands were like E. Honda’s 100-Hand Slap from Street Fighter the way he gets his hands on the basketball.

Pau Gasol finished with another double double (18 points and 10 rebounds). Derek Fisher (11 points) hit some big shots. And Matt Barnes finished with 10 points.

The Lakers finished with 24 assists so I really like that they trust each other out there on the court. After a slow start, the Lakers outboarded the Hornets, 44-34 (11-5 on the offensive end). And they really bore down defensively in the 2nd half. L.A held N’Awlins to 16 points (8/19 shooting) in the 3rd quarter. Not counting OT, the Hornets only scored 39 points in the 3rd and 4th quarters combined.

Somehow, the Lakers found their Gummi Berry Juice in that second half.

THE BAD
You can definitely tell the Lakers looked tired early. The Hornets shot above 60 percent in the first half and put the Lakers in a double digit hole. And the reason why Laker fans are clamoring for more point guard help? In the first half, Jarrett Jack made his first 8 shots (his ninth was a 3-pointer that missed) and back-up Greivis Vasquez made his first four. Jarrett Jack eventually finished with 30 points (even though it did get tougher for him in the 2nd half) with Vasquez chipping in 15. So when your opposing PGs score 45 on you, well… you either find a new PG or quit life (no, I’m kidding but…).

It was really mostly in the first half that the Hornets looked like worldbeaters but Chris Kaman was getting into the paint easily (13 of his 21 in the first two quarters). It’s like my 5’7″ self was guarding him. It was a combination of the Hornets taking advantage of the tired Laker legs and making nearly everything from the perimeter. So in a way, it was a bit encouraging that we knew the Hornets weren’t likely going to keep that pace up. Going into this game, the Hornets were averaging a whopping 88.2 points per game (good for 29th in the league).

The bench finished with 13 points (10 from Barnes, 3 from Steve Blake). And Mike Brown went back to Jason Kapono again instead of Andrew Goudelock. So what did Jason Kapono do again in this game?

I’ll wait.

THE UGLY
Once again, this seems like a product of tired legs in the first half… but the Lakers turned the ball over 19 times. 12 giveaways in the first half and 8 of those came from the second quarter.

But it, at least, made for an awesome comeback in the second half, right? What? You don’t like come-from-behind victories as opposed to Laker blowout wins? Sorry. Neither do I, actually, when it comes to these Lakers.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME
So much to pick from. I can pick from one of the Pau/Drew alley-oops. Or Kobe throwing it down like he’s 21 again. Or Andrew Bynum packing the hell out of Jeff Foote’s (who?) hook shot. But I’ll give it to big-play Ron Artest, er, Metta World Peace with the steal and the breakaway lay-up that put the Lakers up 3 in OT. I can’t say enough on how he’s been coming through as of late. Metta has to think that every game from here on out is a big game.

The Lakers go back to the very comfortable Staples Center, where they’ve only had 2 blemishes in 20 contests. They have the Ricky Rubio-less Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. Still, these guys are fighting for a playoff spot and Kevin Love isn’t exactly a chicken sandwich. It should be another hard-fought battle at Staples.

Two personal notes from me. 1) I can’t wait for Thursday to be done. I mostly hate (kinda like) the trade deadline so I’ll be glad when that’s over with. And 2) the last six games I was scheduled to do recap duty here, the Lakers won. I’m jinxing myself now, aren’t I? I’ll just shut up about this.

By Friday, we may have some new pieces! Let’s see what happens next!

Lakers are now only two games behind #2 San Antonio. The Lakers face the Spurs three times in April.

Box Score: Lakers 105, Wolves 102
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 115.4, Wolves 112.1
True Shooting %: Lakers 59.7%, Wolves 58.8%

After winning eight of ten, the Lakers looked like the Lakers we’ve known all season after they lost winnable games on the road against Detroit and Washington. And it looked like they were going to be 0-3 on this mini-road trip as they faced Minnesota next. The good news was (at least, for the Lakers) that Kevin Love was a late scratch due to back spasms. Let’s recap!

THE GOOD
Andrew Bynum had a monster game.

26 points and 10 boards for the young All-Star center. Particularly in the second quarter, Bynum dominated the paint. I was afraid he wasn’t going to get any touches in the fourth quarter the way the Lakers had been playing as of late but he had big scores down the stretch (including a late alley-oop slam where he did his “NBA Elite 11 Jesus” [NSFW language, by the way] pose thereafter… Darius and I hilariously pointed that out at the same time). It was nice to see the Lakers trust Bynum in the fourth (he put in 10 points in that quarter).

Kobe Bryant overcame a slow start to pour in 34 points (on 11/26 shooting). He was more in control in the second half, even though he was forced to bail the Lakers out with the shotclock running down. We even got a nice left-handed jam out of Kobe that was shades of the Kobe Bryant in the NBA Courtside video game for Nintendo 64. At least, this Kobe was more in rhythm of the offense than previous games.

Pau Gasol didn’t have a great game statistically but he did put in 12 points and 11 boards. He also had that one big stop against Minnesota when he blocked Derrick Williams’ shot with the Lakers up 1 and 6 seconds remaining in the game. So good for Pau for shaking off those trade rumors that went rampant on Twitter earlier and helping the Lakers win.

Derek Fisher must be given props for making three three-pointers in the third quarter.

And even though the bench only scored 13 points, Matt Barnes must be commended for his hustle all game (8 points and 5 boards) and Josh McRoberts getting dirty inside (7 rebounds) in limited play. Those boys helped out in getting 17 offensive rebounds for the Lakers (compared to 10 for the T-Wolves). Steve Blake also led the team with five assists.

The overall boardwork should be praised as well. 45-34 in favor of L.A. Good job.

THE BAD
The defense got better in the second half, yes… but wow, did the Wolves get into the paint with little to no problem early in the game. Nikola Pekovic (that big, burly man is a scary, scary dude… I bet he bench-presses trucks before each game) killed them inside to the tune of 25 points and 13 boards (SIX OFFENSIVE). At times, Derrick Williams (who scored 22 points) got into the paint effortlessly. Ricky Rubio (15 points and 10 assists) was running to his spots with no resistance. And, good grief, Michael Beasley scored 15 points in 16 minutes! Good thing that the Lakers were able to turn it up defensively as the game wore on (and before it was too late).

Lakers were sloppy with the ball early (5 turnovers in the first four and a half minutes). The Lakers ended up with 17 turnovers at the end. Would like to see them cut that down.

Well, yes, we’d like to see the bench score more. As mentioned, they only had 13 points. And just when I thought Mike Brown had settled on a rotation, Troy Murphy gets little playing time and Andrew Goudelock didn’t even see the floor at all (WHAT?!). I applauded Josh McRoberts’ effort but what did Jason Kapono do (who is somehow a +6?!)? I’ll wait.

THE UGLY
If you love the Lakers, you wanna forget the first quarter of play. Wolves 33, Lakers 21. I was SO sure they were going to let us down.

Luckily for us, they won. Actually, I’m pretty angry that they won. Because they should’ve beaten the two other teams. Ugh.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME
I’ll take the Bynum alley-oop jam with 2:42 left in the game (this was after he blocked Rubio’s jumper). Like I said, he posed like the NBA Elite halfcourt glitch right after. That was a good laugh.

Oh, silly Lakers. Quit playin’ games with my heart, you guys. I know what you’re capable of but I don’t even know what to make of you guys anymore. But then again, maybe I should’ve expected this. I joked around a few recaps back that the Lakers would lose winnable games and win difficult games. So I guess with these Lakers, it’s come down to one game at a time?

The Lakers face those evil, evil, evil Celtics on a Sunday afternoon. Even if these teams aren’t as good this year, this is still going to be a very intense game. It’s going to be at the comfy Staples Center where they are 17-2.

On a personal note, the Lakers have won the last five games I’ve recapped. So maybe if you want to petition Darius to have me recap the rest of the season, you could. I’ll also take bribes.

Have a good weekend, ladies and gentlemen!

Box Score: Lakers 115, Kings 107
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 119.8, Kings 111.5
True Shooting %: Lakers 65.5%, Kings 51.0%

This looked like the perfect trap game for the Lakers. The Lakers have a much-anticipated showdown against the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon. I’m sure the Kings don’t like being overlooked. But did the Lakers overlook them? Well…

THE GOOD
There are a lot of kudos to give around. First off, Kobe Bryant, playing in that protective mask for the second straight game, played splendid. 38 points, 8 boards, and 3 steals. Efficient at 13 of 24 from the field and 11 of 14 from the foul line. He was in attack mode right from the start and he hardly forced the issue. Oh, and that three-pointer to essentially put away the game? Gangsta. Well done.

Andrew Bynum looked really good tonight. 19 points, 15 boards, and 3 blocks (not to mention, he altered a LOT of Sacramento’s shots). He overwhelmed the Kings frontline. Great job.

Metta World Peace got off to a slow start but finished strong as he had his strongest scoring output (15 points) since the second game of the season (when he scored 19 points, coincidentally, against the Kings). His timing was quite impeccable as he made a three-pointer (followed by a lay-up) to stop the Kings run in the 4th quarter.

Derek Fisher made all three of his shots (two BIG shots in the fourth quarter) AND played like a classic point guard. Seven assists by Fish tonight.

When Pau Gasol is not forcing lobs or listening to Lady Gaga, he contributed 15 points, 7 boards, and 4 dimes.

Lastly, I’ll give props to the bench for their play (well, mostly in the first half). Matt Barnes once again showed his hustle. He worked his way to 10 points. And Andrew Goudelock had a mini-explosion in the second quarter with 9 quick points. Troy Murphy hit the boards (6 rebounds) and Steve Blake was distributing (4 assists).

All of this contributed to a season-high 115 points for the L.A. Lakers. Beautiful offense (25 assists) played today.

THE BAD
The Lakers only played defense in the third quarter, it seemed.

But really, the Lakers let the Kings back into the game in the fourth quarter. The Sacramento subs showed a lot of heart in coming back. They chopped a 20-point Laker lead down to 5 as the Lakers got sloppy with the ball (5 of their 13 turnovers occurred in the top half of the fourth). It came down to the Lakers being more polished and experienced against the young Kings squad in this track meet of a game (somehow, the Kings only ended up with FIVE turnovers… gotta force more than that, L.A.).

I mean, all-in-all, the Lakers played really well considering the fast pace of this contest. They just can’t let teams get back into the game like this. The bench has to be better at sustaining the lead or putting the game farther away. The starters need to get their… oh, wait. Mike Brown would probably still give the starters run at the end. Never mind.

Also… Ron? I kinda want you to shoot less threes. Are you listening…?

THE UGLY
Ask the Kings.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME
There are a few to pick from. But I decided to go with Bynum’s reverse jam alley-oop from Pau Gasol. Two seven-footers involved in that play? I’m sold!

I know there wasn’t much to talk about, but seriously, this was a fun game to watch (yay for offense!). And they beat a team that they SHOULD beat. No one’s really talking about it at the moment but the Lakers have won 7 of their last 9 games. I know the naysayers are like, “Well, it’s fool’s gold!” Or it was an “easy schedule.”  I guarantee that the complaints would be louder if the Lakers went 2-7 during this stretch. The Lakers are only taking care of business. Let them play ball. And they ARE looking better and better.

The Heat are coming to town for some Sunday afternoon action. I mean, it’s not like anybody is looking forward to this game, right?

Also, the Lakers are now 2-0 since the All-Star br… er… Kobe started wearing that mask. Maybe he should wear that thing forever.

Box Score: Lakers 96, Mavs 91
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 110.3, Mavs 104.6
True Shooting %: Lakers 58.0%, Mavs 48.7%

We knew that the Lakers had a bit of a tough mini-road trip ahead before the All-Star break. The Mavs have been pretty hot. They won 7 of their last 8 going into this game.

THE GOOD
Hey there, Pau Gasol. Way to respond to trade rumors with this performance. Pau Gasol showed pretty much the whole repertoire today from the jumpers to the left-handed hooks to lay-ups to tiptoe dunks. 24 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. And he did a pretty decent job guarding Dirk Nowitzki, too.

Andrew Bynum looked pretty motivated earlier tonight, too. 19 points and 14 boards for the All-Star starting center. And his passing looked much improved today. Too bad, he didn’t get as many touches and shots as I would like.

Derek Fisher had a season-high 15 points in this game (topping his season-high of 13 which also came against Dallas). He shot 6 for 8 (2 for 3 behind the arc) earlier tonight. We all wish he could do this more often (only his sixth time getting double digits this season).

I like how the defense hunkered down on the Mavericks (the Mavs shot 40 percent). The Mavs were forced to shoot more three-pointers than they liked and it paid off for the Lakers (Mavs only shot 8 for 32, 25 percent!). There was also a huge stretch in the fourth quarter where the Mavericks didn’t score a point for nearly four minutes. The Lakers capitalized by going on a 9-0 run, which essentially put away the game.

The bench wasn’t exactly great today… but Matt Barnes nearly put up a double double (9 points, 9 boards). His hustle definitely helped out L.A. Especially late in the game after a missed freethrow (MORE ON MISSED FREETHROWS LATER).

THE BAD
Kobe Bryant didn’t let the game come to him. He stalled the offense in the 3rd while he tried to get his points. He also, for whatever reason, couldn’t handle the basketball and made some questionable decision-making. Kobe just didn’t look Kobe. He finished with 15 points (4 for 15 shooting) and 7 turnovers. But he did come up big at the end which I’ll bring up in a bit.

While I did like that the Lakers packed it in the paint, they still have to do a better job closing out on the perimeter. Yes, the Mavericks didn’t shoot very well behind the arc and we get that the 3-point shot is a low-percentage shot. But you still gotta come out and rotate. The Lakers were lucky that the Mavs didn’t make more treys. They lost a 14-point lead in the 2nd quarter partly because of back-to-back open 3s Dallas made.

And while we’re at it, the Lakers have to do a better job boxing out guys like Brendan Haywood and Shawn Marion. They were mostly responsible for 21 offensive boards for their team. The Lakers closed the gap with 17 of their own but they still gotta keep the other team in check when it comes to that.

The Lakers also had 17 turnovers. But again, Kobe did have the majority of them (he had 7 as mentioned).

Oh, and don’t let Vince Carter think it’s 2000 all over again. He had 18 points in the first half alone. Good thing that Metta World Peace did a decent job at him in the second half when he was out there (Barnes got the crunchtime minutes). Vince only scored 2 points in the final two quarters.

Shoutout to the refs who didn’t call a flagrant foul on Brendan Haywood. He clearly smashed Pau Gasol in the face late in the game.

THE UGLY
Well… we already know if you watched the game. Freethrows. 18 for 31 overall. That was because they shot 8 for 17 in the 4th. They missed six freethrows in a row with less than a minute to go. That would drive anyone nuts. The game would’ve been over earlier had they made, at least, two of those.

I sure hope Kobe is shooting foul shots (5 for 9) at the American Airlines Center right now. And I hope he took Pau (2 for 6) with him.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME
Kobe to Andrew Bynum for the alley-oop dunk with 1:05 left in the game. That put the Lakers up seven (that should’ve put away the game… but ya know… freethrows) which made it a higher mountain for the Mavericks to climb. The play before that was pretty good, too, where Kobe passed it to Pau for a lay-up. Oh, Kobe. Two passes in a critical juncture after you tried to get your points? You’re such a troll. Anyway, the Lakers are now 2-0 against Dallas this season. It’s not the playoffs, sure, but I’m sure the Lakers and us fans can take a little satisfaction out of this.

The Lakers have now won 5 out of 6. They look more comfortable and settled in their roles. And even though the ending was a little bizarre, this is a BIG ROAD WIN by the Lakers. Yes, the Lakers laid an egg against the Suns at Phoenix but I’m going to look at that as an aberration compared to how they’ve been playing as of late.

No rest for the weary. The Lakers go to Oklahoma City tomorrow night for another big game. Both teams are going to be at the tail end of a back-to-back (the Thunder beat the Celtics earlier) so they’re both going to be pretty fatigued (although, yes, Oklahoma City has younger players). If the Lakers win against the Thunder, maybe the whole league should take notice of Kobe and the boys once again, eh?

Don’t stop believin’!

Box Score: Lakers 111, Suns 99
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 106.7, Suns 95.2
True Shooting %: Lakers 62.9%, Suns 53.3%

It is always fun to watch Steve Nash play. Too bad, the Suns haven’t been as talented as in years past. But, of course, that’s also good news for Laker fans for that it’s an “easier” game for L.A.

THE GOOD
Kobe Bean Bryant. 36 points (18 in the 3rd!), 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals. 14/25 shooting. Efficient!

Kobe took what the Suns defense gave him and capitalized. The Suns couldn’t stop him. Grant Hill? Jared Dudley? Shannon Brown? No problem. Kobe brought it all out. Left-handed hook shots. Midrange jumpers. Three-pointer on the break. Reverse lay-ups. And the great thing about this? It was all within the flow of the offense.

The ball movement was crisp (26 assists) in today’s game (yes, I get that Phoenix is not a defensive juggernaut), even if it got a little sloppy at times. But, at least, the idea was there to keep the ball moving (I saw cutting! Amazing!). The Lakers were decidedly more patient today and got away with good shots more often than not. As a result of all of this, the Lakers finished with 111 points in tonight’s game, a season high. It is their fourth time hitting 100 (in 30 games) but we hope to see more of this kind of offense from the Lakers. Like I said, it may have been against the Suns… but practice makes perfect and, hopefully, they can do this against tougher defensive squads.

Yes, the big guys (Bynum with 17 and 14) got theirs but it was SO nice to see the Laker bench do something good for a change. Matt Barnes scored a season-high 17 points and snatched 7 caroms. The Laker bench scored 34 points overall and they looked very confident in the second quarter when they sparked an 11-0 run.

The Lakers easily killed the Suns on the boards, 52-36. And the Lakers were better in their shot selection. They only put up 11 three-pointers but they made 5 of them.

This is easily the best I’ve seen the Lakers offense this season (even if they did have a bit of a lull in the fourth quarter). Every player on the court usually touched the basketball in possessions. They attacked the inside with much gusto tonight (whether it’s the bigs bullying or Kobe making his way through… season-high 54 points in the paint!).

The Suns had a hard time scoring in the 3rd, even though they scored 25 points. They missed eight straight shots (mostly jumpshots) as the Lakers packed it in the paint in a key 14-0 3rd quarter run (Suns didn’t score for nearly five minutes). Good to see them give Phoenix a hard time on the defensive end (they also subdued Steve Nash’s scoring: 11 points… even though he did get 17 assists). Most importantly, fans in Staples Center got tacos and Internet L.A. got virtual tacos!

THE BAD
Pau Gasol looked like a sad panda out there. Gasol couldn’t get anything going in the offense and was even missing bunnies out there. He still got his eighth consecutive double double but he got his last few points (he finished with 10 points and 13 boards) when the game was pretty much decided. Gasol looked weary for the most part and I wonder if the trade rumors are starting to take a toll on him.

I would definitely like to see better pick-and-roll play. Our fearless leader, Darius, brought up the fact that the guards are giving up their dribble too early on the pick-and-roll. It pretty much stops the offense and it gives the defense a chance to swarm on the guards.

We saw some of that in the fourth quarter and the Lakers, notorious for blowing leads, gave up a 20-point lead that they built in the 3rd quarter. The Suns managed to cut it down to 5 (with a spectacular Shannon Brown putback slam… hey, remember him?!) before the starters came back to put away the mess. As much as the bench played well, they can’t give up big leads like this. They looked more hesitant in the fourth quarter, quite the opposite from what we saw in the second quarter. Put it away next time, bench, since the starters need as much as rest as they can in this compressed season.

Before the Suns hit that wall in the 3rd quarter, the Lakers couldn’t stop Marcin Gortat. Gortat eventually ended up with 21 points and 16 rebounds but he was less effective in the second half (he had 14 by halftime).

Also, Shannon Brown exploded for 15 points in limited time. I’m sure the Lakers miss his production. Even if he took questionable shots. Right? No? Let’s move on.

THE UGLY
Lakers had 19 turnovers (Suns had 17). Most of this sloppiness occurred in the first half. Steve Blake threw some careless passes. Andrew Bynum still doesn’t seem to know what to do when he draws a two-team. At least, it was against the Suns… and a helter-skelter Suns team at that. Can’t do that against a disciplined team like the Spurs or the Bulls.

Also, I happen to like Metta World Peace personally but that fastbreak where he missed two lay-ups (including a… no-look shot)? Yeah. Ugly. But it made me laugh. Never change, World Peace.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME
It was very early in the first quarter where everybody (well, at least, four players) touched the ball that ended with an Andrew Bynum alley-oop lay-up from a nice pass by Pau Gasol. That was such beautiful basketball that I KNOW we’re capable of seeing from the Lakers. Ball movement is good! Keep it up!

The Lakers and Suns have a rematch on Sunday but this time around, they’ll be in enemy territory. The Lakers have now won three straight and I’m a little bit encouraged, guys! Hopefully, they can keep it rolling as they have a pretty tough schedule before All-Star Weekend.

Why can’t the Lakers play Phoenix every game for the rest of the season? Or ’til the world ends (I ALMOST inserted Britney Spears lyrics here; good thing that I didn’t)?

Box Score: Lakers 86, Hawks 78
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 97.7, Hawks 88.6
True Shooting %: Lakers 50.0%, Hawks 41.9%

Honestly… going into this game, I knew watching the game was going to be a chore. I always have a hard time watching the Atlanta Hawks play. Add to the fact that the Lakers haven’t been all that fun to watch, either, and I thought to myself that this game had a potential for a stinker.

THE GOOD
But let’s start out with the good first. The good? The Lakers won. Hurray.

And for the most part, the Lakers had nice ball movement (20 assists) and went to their bigs quite often (which is, you know, common sense) until the Lakers distanced themselves from the Hawks. Pau Gasol had a nice 20-point, 13-rebound, 4-block outing. He even made a corner 3! Andrew Bynum got off to a fast start and, while he wasn’t much of a factor in the second half, he ended up with 15 points and 15 boards. The bigs definitely helped in edging out the Hawks in the rebounding battle, 52-47.

I wanna give Metta World Peace some credit here. He scored 10 points and it was his first time in double digits since January 22nd. And it’s the second game in a row where he made two three-pointers (yes, including that hilarious 3-pointer before the half ended where he held on the ball for what seemed like a minute). He even had a delightful jam near the end of the game. Nice to see him have a good game. Would like to see him put it together in a string of games.

The bench played pretty well today. Andrew Goudelock (NO MORE MINI-MAMBAS, BILL MacDONALD!!!) led the subs with 10 points. Steve Blake dished out 6 assists. Troy Murphy made a couple of linedrive threes. And Matt Barnes hustled his way to 6 points and 5 boards (that block on Kirk Hinrich’s 3-pointer at the end of the 3rd was great).

The three-pointers were going in. 8 for 17 against the Hawks. Not bad for the team who continues to be last in three-point field goal percentage.

Also, while the Hawks were held to 34.4 percent shooting, the defense should get some of the credit but not all of it. It was unbelievable that the Hawks were missing lay-ups all game and the game may have been closer had they made those. The Hawks scored 10 points in the 3rd (the Lakers weren’t much better at 17).

Of course, the game would’ve been done earlier if the Lakers actually took care of business at the other end. Lakers ended up at 44 percent shooting but they were under 40 for a lot of the game.

THE BAD
The Lakers had 17 turnovers and they started out the third quarter with three passes thrown away.

Kobe Bryant wasn’t Kobe today as he shot 5/18 (10 points!). In fact, the offense went to a halt when he tried to get his points at the end of the second, which prompted the Hawks to go on an 11-0 run.

Derek Fisher, in the meantime, has to cut off his toes. He keeps shooting the worst 2-pt shot in the game (THE FOOT ON THE LINE!!!). But, at least, Jeff Teague, the opposing point guard, was only “held” to 18 points (we all know what Jeremy Lin and Jose Calderon did previously).

Not a lot of bad happened in this game but…

THE UGLY
This game was ugly. Period. Very hard game to watch. The fourth quarter was a complete offensive explosion compared to the third for sure but check out these droughts. The Lakers didn’t score for more than six minutes in the second quarter because they stalled and went away from what got them the lead in the first palce. The Hawks didn’t make a field goal for a full nine minutes (last 8:33 of the 3rd) as they hurried jumpers and missed shots your grandmothers can probably make.

The Hawks play a lot of isolation ball (Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Jeff Teague among others) and it’s just not very fun to watch. The Lakers seem to play their best when they go inside to their bigs, which is, admittedly, not very fun to watch, either. And Kobe didn’t go off like he usually does… so what we’re left here is a slow, grinding, diffic… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

If you had other plans for Valentine’s Day, I applaud you. I love the win and, yes, I mentioned a lot of good for the Lakers here but that doesn’t mean it was aesthetically pleasing. This game would be the equivalent to an ugly girl with a great personality… and, in the end, you’ll slowly fall for her because of it. You’ll just have to embrace its faults.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME
Ron’s dunk was great and all but I’m going to go to the reverse lay-up by Kobe Bryant in the third quarter. It was vintage Kobe where he went under, from right to left, and finished with a twisting right-handed reverse lay-up. ‘Twas beautiful and one of the few bright spots for Kobe.

The Lakers have a home-and-home series against Phoenix next. The first battle starts at Staples Center on Friday. I expect Steve Nash to go for 2,000 points and 895 assists here but the Lakers SHOULD win this and make themselves a little more comfortable in the standings.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody.

Box Score: Lakers 85, Knicks 92
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 90.4, Knicks 97.9
True Shooting %: Lakers 50.0%, Knicks 54.5%

The Good:
I’m trying here, guys.

There were just a few stretches where you could say, “Okay, maybe the Lakers are going to be okay.” Pau Gasol (16 points) had a nice second quarter with 8 points but he got in foul trouble early in the 3rd. In desperation, Kobe Bryant (34 points) is second to none in terms of trying to rally his team back one-on-five.

Off the bench, Matt Barnes played a quiet good game with 11 points (5 for 6 shooting) and 6 boards.

I’m just grasping on straws here, aren’t I?

The Bad:
The Lakers looked like a tired team that just played an overtime game the night before (wait a minute). The porous shooting continues. 37.5 percent for the game.

At one point in the 3rd quarter, the Knicks were playing sloppily and the Lakers didn’t take advantage. Derek Fisher kept shooting the worst shots (foot on the line). Andrew Bynum looked tired/lazy out there (maybe it was because of the Knicks defense… but he only ended up with 3 points). Kobe Bryant started out 1 for 11 (before finishing with 11 for 29). Metta World Peace was definitely not living up to his name as he lost his composure. The bench (other than Barnes) once again failed to give them that lift. Steve Blake did a decent job defending that Knick guard that I will talk about in a bit but he shot 2 for 11 (1 for 8 behind the arc).

The Lakers left the Knicks open behind the arc but they were lucky that the Knicks only shot 5 for 21.

The Lakers turned the ball over often early. They ended up with 17 giveaways in the game.

Okay. Maybe he was underestimated but no one thought (well, maybe his parents did) that Jeremy Lin would explode for 38 points. They did the right thing initially by letting him shoot jumpers and getting physical with him. But they never did try to get the ball out of his hands. The Knick offense looked a bit more discombobulated with Lin not on the floor. Maybe it was magic or maybe he really is that friggin’ good of a basketball player… but Jeremy Lin was spectacular against the Lakers (NOBODY could stop him!). It’s a wonderful story and, even though I root for the Lakers, it is so nice to see someone like Jeremy Lin beat the odds and play out of his mind after he got a chance. I just hated that he did it against the Lakers.

The Ugly:
The Lakers fouled 29 times in the game. That’s almost like a dead giveaway of tired legs or lazy defense. But they sure couldn’t stop Jeremy Lin from getting into the paint. That gave the Knicks 11 more freethrows than L.A. and the margin of victory would’ve been larger had the Knicks made their freethrows (21 for 34).

The Play Of The Game:
I seriously had to think about this one. Remember that the Lakers never led in the game.

I’m going to have to go with Kobe’s difficult turnaround against Landry Fields with 5:26 left in the third. That was his second field goal of the game and he would go on to make four of his next five shots that put the Lakers within reach.

Unfortunately, Kobe had little help once again and the Lakers fell short as they continue to Jekyll and Hyde through the season.

It really is hard to find a balance for this Laker team. It’s a catch-22. Sometimes, they need Kobe to score 45 in a game. But yet people will clamor for Kobe to pass the ball inside. Sometimes, they need the bigs to have the ball. But yet people will clamor for Kobe to shoot more. It’s a no-win situation unless they win the game.

The Lakers face the Raptors on Sunday afternoon. You know how well they do on Sunday afternoon games. For all I know, the Lakers will go .500 the rest of the way as they beat powerhouse teams like Oklahoma City and lose to weak teams like New Orleans.

In short, this season has been frustrating for the Lakers. But, of course, you already knew that.

Box Score: Lakers 87, Jazz 96
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 103.6, Jazz 114.3
True Shooting %: Lakers 53.3%, Jazz 52.5%

The Good:
For most of the first 3 quarters, Andrew Bynum looked dominant. Nobody from the Jazz seemed capable of stopping his offense. He finished with another monster game with 21 points, 12 boards, and 2 blocks. We can’t ignore Pau Gasol’s production also… and while he took a team-leading 20 shots, he did finish with an even better statline (24 points, 16 rebounds, 2 blocks). He noticeably shortarmed a lot of his shots (including his freethrows) but, nevertheless, he had a good game, overall.

It was nice to see the Lakers’ Big 3 all get over 20 points. They also got to the line quite a bit (30 freethrow attempts by the Lakers compared to 20). They kept the game close for the first three quarters (biggest lead during that time frame was 6 by the Lakers). But the game is played with four quarters (insert very played-out LeBron James joke here).

The Bad:
Lakers shot 38.7%. Bad.

The Lakers lost their composure. We can all look at Mike Brown getting ejected after that play where Earl Watson pickpocketed Pau Gasol from behind (which looked more like a tackle). It got the Energy Solutions Arena crowd into it and the Lakers succumbed to a 16-1 Jazz run spearheaded by Watson himself (who had 8 points and 11 assists overall). The Lakers couldn’t execute in the fourth (heck, in the second half) like they did in the first half… and they couldn’t make a shot to save their lives.

While the Lakers did play well enough to keep the game close in those three quarters, Kobe Bryant looked like he was doing more bad than good during that time frame. He worked way too hard trying to get up a shot early and had two careless fouls in the third quarter. His aggressiveness seemed to work against him rather than for him. But it didn’t seem like much of a factor at the time as the game was close.

Late offensive boards killed any sign of a Laker comeback in the waning seconds. The Jazz beat up the Lakers on the boards, 50-42. And well… the Jazz, despite the Lakers’ big men getting big numbers, beat up the Lakers inside. Al Jefferson had 18 points and 13 boards while Paul Millsap had 16 and 13 to keep up with Bynum and Gasol.

Andrew Goudelock, who has been pretty good over the last few games, finished 1 for 5 (4 points). His misses were not pretty. And, by the way, can we stop with the Mini-Mamba nickname? Please? It’s horrendous.

Also, the Lakers only had 12 dimes (Jazz had 25). So much for ball movement.

Oh, yes. I know I haven’t mentioned that they got in late (4 A.M.). But it really shouldn’t be an excuse.

The Ugly:
As mentioned, Earl Watson led the Jazz to a 16-1 run early in the 4th. The Lakers didn’t make a field goal until 5:56 left when Kobe made the first of back-to-back 3-pointers.

We were thinking in the past few games that the bench may be all right since Goudelock has been carrying the load. With Goudelock not producing, the Laker bench only scored 12 points. It looks way worse when the Jazz bench scored a whopping 49 points. So as mentioned by fellow writer Zephid… if Goudelock goes, so do the Lakers? Pass me the alc… apple juice.

The Play Of The Game:
Bynum had the pass of his life when, after he hustled to get the ball after a Derek Fisher miss, he threw a no-look, over-the-shoulder pass underneath to Pau Gasol for the dunk. It was really pretty and it was nice to see the All-Star starter (YES! ALL-STAR STARTER!) make that kind of play.

Lakers go to Philadelphia next to continue on their six-game road trip. But the Lakers… well, they’re so Jekyll and Hyde. One game, they look like a pretty awesome squad. The next, they’ll lay an egg. I wonder which team we’re going to get against the Sixers.

At least, they won against Denver?